It’s the start of a new year and for social media marketers that means looking ahead to the trends that will impact on our work over the next 12 months.
As the close of 2017 drew nearer, social media marketing experts gazed into their crystal balls to see what’s coming down the line in 2018. So which of their predictions should we set our sights on? I’ve put together this list of the top predictions from around the web to help you keep your finger on the pulse of the trends which will shape the social media landscape. Take some time to look at your existing marketing strategies, and see which ones could benefit from (or be negatively affected by) these coming trends.
1. Video Marketing Will Continue To Grow In Importance
Video was hotter than ever in 2017 and will only continue to grow in importance in 2018. Video has become the predominant way we consume information. The average video post generates 135% greater organic reach, when compared to photo posts according to research from Social Bakers.
Trends from 2017 show an increased demand for video personalization, as well as an interest in integrating video marketing into the customer journey. By inserting a well-placed video to illustrate your company’s product, service, or cause, you can create a personalized journey for your customers. It’s a creative way to leave an impact. Ignite
Video marketing is long past the status of an “up-and-coming” tactic. It’s here, and it’s an increasingly powerful way to communicate your brand story, explain your value proposition, and build relationships with your customers and prospects. — Hubspot
Facebook is doubling down on video. In 2017, Facebook rolled out Facebook Watch for select creators (their TV-like option). Facebook plans to sink nearly $1bn into original video content over the next year to build out its newly launched Watch tab, which serves as a hub for longer-form, TV-like series that the social giant is hoping will help it rival YouTube.
Video marketing can help you tell your story in a more entertaining, educational and inspiring way so if it’s not already part of your strategy, get on board with video this year.
Recommended Reading: Top 5 Video Marketing Trends for 2018
2. Live Video Will Continue To Dominate
Live streaming video will continue to dominate and capture attention in 2018. Buffer’s 2018 State of Social Report offers insights into how 60% of social media marketers publishing live video events reported success with this strategy. 80% of users said they’d rather watch a live video than read a blog post, while according to Facebook, people are spending 3 times longer watching live content than prerecorded videos. Thanks to the rise of Facebook Live, Twitter Live, and Instagram Stories’ “Live” mode you now not only have the ability to communicate with your audience via social media, you can also do so in real time.
Live video helps bring your brand to life in an authentic way. Marketing is now less about pre-produced, scripted videos, and more about delivering an authentic experience that people can connect with. Your audience wants to feel like they are right there where the action is happening and live video lets them feel part of the story you are telling.
3. Use Of Chatbots and Artificial Intellingence (AI) Will Accelerate
According to IDC’s “Worldwide Semiannual Augmented and Virtual Reality Spending Guide,” global spending on AR and VR is expected to at least double every year through 2021. Much of this growth is due to social media, as Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram race to add AR features to their platforms.
Chatbots and AI will play a much bigger role in automated marketing and customer support, much of it via social media. More users use social messaging than actually the social media itself — especially younger millennials. According to Leverage Marketing, 57 per cent of consumers have shown interest in chatbots because of their instantaneous nature. We can expect more brands to use chatbots in 2018 as a way to give their customers instantaneous interactions that could lead directly to conversions.
Recommended Reading: Messenger Chatbots: How to Get Started
4. Messenger as an eCommerce Option Will Expand
As an extension of the rise of Chatbots, we can expect to see the expansion of more eCommerce options with messaging apps like WhatsApp, Slack, WeChat, and Facebook Messenger. The latest Ofcom Communications Market research shows that more than half of the total mobile audience uses Facebook Messenger (61%) and half uses WhatsApp (50%).Facebook Messenger alone is on the phones of over 1.2 billion people. Facebook says that there are now more than 2 billion messages sent between businesses and people on Messenger each month.
This past month, Facebook announced a new peer-to-peer payment process, via PayPal, for US users, while they’re working with financial institutions in other regions to provide similar, easy payment tools.
5. Emergence of Virtual Reality (VR)
The emerging range of 3D virtual reality headsets such as the Oculus Rift and Google Cardboard provide unprecedented levels of immersion in devices that will soon be more affordable and widely available to the public.
Facebook’s already taking steps towards social interaction within the VR environment, so expect to see them advance this even further in 2018.
6. Micro-Influencer Marketing On The Rise
Influencers gain followers by connecting with audiences on a personal level and becoming a trusted source. According to Social Media Today, influencer marketing is growing faster than digital ads. However according to Social Media Today macro-influencers hit their peak at the beginning of last year, but now micro-influencers are on the rise. On YouTube, microinfluencers yield more clout than macroinfluencers: 70 percent of millennials relate more to YouTube stars than traditional celebrities, and 60 percent of YouTube subscribers would follow their favorite YouTuber’s product recommendations over recommendations from TV stars.
I believe the only truly effective influencer is the person who is excited about your product or service, and wants to shout about it not because they are being paid to do so, but because they love what you do. Finding these brand evangelists and leveraging their genuine passion will be key to growing your social influence in an authentic and real way. If you want to see this in action, just look at how a legion of fan evangelists turned a modest kitchen appliance into more than an Amazon marketing coup last year.
7. Mobile Responsive Websites Are A Must
In March 2017, comScore released its “2017 US Cross-Platform Future in Focus” report, which tracks consumer usage patterns across digital media channels and platforms. The measurement firm found that mobile now accounts for 69 percent of digital media time spent. By comparison, the desktop has fallen to less than one-third of total digital media time.
It’s certainly not news that responsive design is one of the main ranking Google ranking-factors. Just over a year ago, Google announced a major change to the way its search index will rank sites: it will go mobile-first. As the company explained at the time, Google’s algorithms will eventually primarily use the mobile version of a website’s content to rank its pages. Without a mobile responsive site, not only are you losing out significantly in the organic search rankings, but Google has made it very clear that it will penalize sites that are not mobile responsive.
Google says 61 percent of users are unlikely to return to a mobile site they had trouble accessing with 40 percent visiting a competitor’s site instead. If you haven’t implemented a mobile first strategy yet, make it a top priority in the coming year.
8. Voice Searches Will Continue to Grow
Voice search is not just on the horizon. It is here now. Yet our industry is stuck in yesterday’s paradigm of mobile optimization and web pages, even as Google moves into consumer’s homes and automobiles with devices that answer spoken questions with spoken answers. — Search Engine Journal
The majority of people searching for your company on the web still trust search engines but the way people search for information online is changing. Increasingly, people are using voice search on their smartphones, tablets or voice assistants (like the Amazon Echo or Google Home devices) to search for information on the internet (yet another compelling reason to make sure that your site is optimized for mobile).
Some 40% of adults now use voice search once per day, according to comScore, and Google voice search queries were up 35 fold in 2016 from 2008 levels, according to Mary Meeker’s 2016 Internet Trends report. By 2020, 50% percent of all searches will likely be voice searches.
Brands that don’t embrace voice and local search will lose customers to those that do. The bar for search relevance has never been higher — brands will be expected to deliver optimized results that cater to location, device, and even speed, to power conversions. NewsCred Insights
Just as marketers have optimized content for web 2.0 and mobile, they will have to start optimizing content for voice search as well. In essence, voice searches are largely about answering questions, not about focusing on individual keywords. To quote NewsCred, “If you’re a marketer, “What’s the Alexa strategy?” will be a question you’ll be expected to answer.”
Recommended Reading: How Do You Optimize for Voice Search?
Bonus Tip: A great tip from Marketing Profs is to post a YouTube video. “It turns out that YouTube videos do show up in voice search results.”
9. Organic Reach Will Continue To Decline
Again, nothing new with this prediction, but we can expect to see a further decline in organic reach in 2018.
The time of free organic reach has passed us by, and we need to accept that to gain any kind of traction with social media marketing you need to have an advertising budget of some kind. Social Media Today
To reach both your existing fans and followers and new audiences within your target market, you need to invest in advertising or sponsored content. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn all offer native advertising solutions, and Instagram ads can be delivered through the Facebook power editor.
Recommended Reading 6 Trends in Digital Advertising That Take Us from 2017 to 2020
10. A Fresh Focus on Generation Z Will Emerge
We’re moving from a focus on Millennials to Gen Z — those born in the mid-1990s and early 2000s, who are true digital natives.
To date marketers have treated Generation Z and Millennials the same, but this will change in 2018 and beyond. According to Salesforce “millennials and members of the subsequent Generation Z are markedly different in how they shop, interact with brands, and view money.”
11. Ephemeral Content Will Flourish
Snapchat pioneered the idea of ephemeral content (posts that only last for a short time, with Instagram and Facebook quickly following suit. Ephemeral content is a great way to be more human and people want to connect more with that.
Social media is constantly evolving, and while you need to stay abreast of trends, you don’t necessarily need to jump on each and every one of them at once. To stay competitive in the social space, we need to be open to new technology and ready to experiment with new tools, but we shouldn’t fall for the proverbial “shiny object syndrome.” Keep your sights on the bigger picture — ask yourself how this new technology fits with your overall strategy. The challenge as always is keeping ahead of evolving social media trends, but equally staying true to your mission and vision.
Here’s to your social media success in 2018!